Coming soon - the ultimate spray-on aphrodisiac

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The Independent Online
FORGET the oysters and the Spanish Fly; throw away the powdered rhinoceros horn. For couples seeking better sex, the 'orgasm spray' is the aphrodisiac of the future.

The directions are simple: one or two puffs to be inhaled up each nostril by the female partner and wait - but not for long. Heightened arousal is followed by frantic sexual activity, then intensified orgasm - and lots of them. . . to be repeated as necessary.

Wishful thinking? Not quite. Scientists are to investigate the aphrodisiac powers of a simple hormonal drug, oxytocin, used in pregnancy and childbirth, after an Australian woman reported unexpected benefits.

The report in the British Medical Journal echoes anecdotal evidence obtained by the Independent - but yet to be confirmed - that some nurses in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney, east London, had also discovered the secrets of the 'orgasm spray'.

The Australian woman was given a synthetic nasal-spray form of the hormone to help her to breast-feed, but was distracted by its pleasurable side-effects and told her doctors at the Key Centre for Women's Health in Society at Melbourne University.

They speculate that her experience was due to a combination of hormones - she was also taking a progestogen- only Pill, Levonorgestrel. Once she stopped taking the Pill her sex life returned to normal.

Writing in the same issue of the BMJ, Joe Herbert, a reader in neuroendocrinology at Cambridge University, says that oxytocin, which occurs naturally in the brain and many nerves, may be worth further investigation. Some scientists think it promotes 'bonding' between mother and baby, but a more exciting role is possible. However, he warns that 'over-interpretation of a single uncontrolled case should be resisted.' For the time being.